What Is Live Shopping?

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Live shopping has hit the ground running in the e-commerce world, becoming the go-to choice for countless brands to engage their customers and promote their business’s growth. But what is live shopping? And what could it mean for your brand?

Our quick guide covers all you need to know about this modern way to reach your audience and drive both sales and brand loyalty through the roof.

Live Shopping Origins: Taobao 2016

In May 2016, Chinese retail giant Alibaba introduced Taobao Live, blending a live stream broadcast with e-commerce. Unsurprisingly, it took off and became a major venue for sales especially during holidays. 

By 2020, this method of sales was capable of generating $7.5 billion in retail transactions in the first half hour of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day event. In a survey that same year, about two-thirds of Chinese consumers reported purchasing at least one item from a livestream.

Now, this same trend is picking up traction in the West. If the current trend continues, live commerce could prove one of the best ways for brands to promote their growth.

Why Turn to Live Shopping?

Live shopping can be a key turning point for brands across various fields. This live commerce venue finds its value in how it raises two key factors for brands:

Rapid Conversion
Live shopping can accelerate leads into conversions, especially through time-limited tactics. A live shopping event creates a limited-time event, which pushes customers along the journey toward a purchase faster and more efficiently.

Brand Appeal
Standing out is more of a challenge for brands than ever before. But live shopping provides an engaging way to not only improve your brand’s image and appeal, but it provides a means to stand out from the competition.

Riding the Crest

However, live shopping is seeing a period of rapid growth. So it is vital for brands to get their foot in the door sooner rather than later. By moving toward live commerce, you can get ahead by establishing a loyal audience that will stick with your brand into the future.

Using China as an example, their live commerce sales are expected to reach over $400 million this very year. The wave has been building there for some time, but countries in Europe and the Americas have a unique opportunity to begin riding the crest as it builds.

So, What Is Live Shopping?

Calling live shopping a commerce trend hardly does this breakthrough justice. Trends come and go, so it might be more accurate to describe live shopping as the next step in the evolution of 21st-century retail and commerce.

Live shopping, also called livestream shopping, is a way for brands to sell products during live video streams through the stream itself! Think of it as a modern, stylish, and more engaging QVC, but without the tacky sales gimmicks.

It combines three factors to provide a convenient, alluring venue for engaging your audience and customers. When done right, live shopping can be a powerful way to increase sales, brand awareness, and brand loyalty all simultaneously.

Live Shopping Factor 1: The Livestream
A successful live shopping experience is grounded in a video stream, and this is what makes this model so unique. Instead of simply browsing a static website for products, your audience is presented with a live video stream.

During the video, brands can utilize all manner of creative methods to further promote their products, ranging from demonstrations to answering live FAQs.

Live Shopping Factor 2: The Host
Live shopping is about more than simply livestreaming a feed of your products. The reason this e-commerce trend has become so popular is that is brings a human touch to it.

Live shopping streams should have a host for the stream, someone who knows your products inside and out and can talk about them with a passion.

This key human interaction is what has made live shopping such a vital tool for numerous e-commerce brands. Your audience can interact with and see an actual person instead of simply scrolling through pages of products, with nothing but pre-written product descriptions to keep them company.

Live Shopping Factor 3: The Products
There is no better way to get a potential customer interested in a product than to show them just how good it is.

But most e-commerce sites will never have that chance. Instead, they rely on static images and brief product descriptions to do the selling.

Not only does this lead to lower sales, but it also results in more customers returning items when they don’t match expectations.

Live shopping eliminates this restriction, allowing customers to see products in action. They can hear about the host’s experience with the product, see it from multiple angles, and get a better idea of what it is before clicking “buy.” This not only can boost sales, but lowers the return rate for items.

How Does It Work?

There is some variation, but the best way for live shopping to work is during your livestream, your audience will be able to directly purchase the featured items from within the video itself!

No need to click on links that take you to other pages. And if your customers have a saved address and card on file, they can even skip filling out time-consuming shipping/billing information. They simply click “Buy” and the item is theirs.

Live shopping capitalizes on impulse buys while working alongside the expectation that attention spans can be short nowadays. Anytime a customer has to go to a new page, that’s a chance for them not to become a conversion.

Live shopping keeps everything in one place, engaging your audience and allowing purchases through one seamless experience.

During the stream, your host can present all kinds of info about the product. And they can even directly interact with those watching, responding in real time to potential customers.

Altogether, this turns live shopping into a full experience that is not only good for your brand, but fun and interesting to your audience as well. Everyone wins.

Shoppable Videos
Onlive decided to take things a step further and allow you to reuse your livestream shopping videos. Our software lets you take a video you used for a livestream (or even make a new one!) and allows customers to purchase items directly through that video.

Maybe someone missed the livestream. No problem. They can simply watch through the shoppable video and directly purchase the items from within the video.

The Forms of Live Shopping

Okay, live shopping is great and you are ready to try it. But what should you do for your event? Choosing a format is going to be one of the biggest factors in matching your products with your audience.

But it is also always good to mix up your formats, instead of relying on a single, repetitive formula. Still, below are a few options for serving as format foundations.

Tutorials
If you have a product that requires a tutorial, you can bet that someone else has made one. And that video is diverging from your brand. But a live shopping event can be a great way to have an in-house tutorial, one that boosts product knowledge while also staying true to your brand’s image.

Interviews
Whether with an outside expert or an in-house artisan, interviews can provide customers with new insight into products. They enhance the personal feel of your brand, and can built both awareness and interest at the same time.

Behind-the-Scenes
From an inside, passionate story of how your brand reached its position to exclusive peeks into the design process. Behind-the-scenes formats can generate a powerful brand image while also generating a sense of brand loyalty.

Why Is It Becoming So Popular?

Even before the pandemic, the internet was becoming the dominant home for retail and commerce. Convenience reigned supreme, and to a degree it still does so to this day.

But there is something about actual human interaction that was missing from the equation. Clicking “add to cart” was easy, but perhaps too easy.

But live shopping may be the perfect way to approach the modern consumer. It maintains all the convenience of e-commerce, but it does so alongside an engaging livestream with real, actual people.

Streaming has already become one of the preferred types of content among multiple age groups. Just look at the success of Twitch (with 1.7 billion hours watched in November 2020) and other live streaming platforms.

Live streaming shows a 99% year-over-year growth. Let that settle in. In April 2020, there were nearly 4 billion hours of live streaming watched.

How could a brand not want to tap into that potential? 

Millennials, Gen Z, and Beyond

Gen Z and millennials unsurprisingly make up the largest portion of live shopper demographics. Still, older generations are far from out of the game, and middle-aged to senior audiences have their share in buying through live shopping events.

However, studies show that social media is the largest influence on Gen Z consumers. So integrating purchases into social media will pay off big time. For millennials, social media is second, right behind online reviews.

Live Commerce in the Future

The current trend continues to show the growth of live commerce in the upcoming years. But what does that look like? As with any medium, innovation and new ideas will be key in keeping your brand’s growth stable and upward.

Format Flexibility
Virtual and augmented reality seem to finally be making gains in popularity. And this is just one example of how formats for live commerce could adapt and vary in the future. Always be on the lookout for ways to make live events interesting, unique, and engaging.

Any and All Sectors
Fashion might dominate live shopping, but that doesn’t mean other sectors can’t enjoy its benefits. With the right understanding of your audience and an engaging approach, even unexpected businesses could find a home in live commerce.

Smaller Influencers, Bigger Results
A-list and big-name influencers will always be recognizable and can boost sales. But they also cost a ton. Smaller influencers can still provide that kick up in sales while not draining company funds. Even better, they may actually generate brand loyalty and customer connection longer term, since they can come across as more honest and genuine than a celebrity who lives on a multi-million-dollar estate.

What Types of Brands Can Try Live Shopping?

Live shopping can prove a boon for almost any brand. But there certainly are some that have made more use of this medium than others.

Below, we have listed various industries from most popular to least when it comes to live shopping.

  1. Apparel and fashion
  2. Beauty
  3. Fresh food
  4. Consumer electronics
  5. Furnishing and home décor
  6. Automobile and local online-to-offline sales (such as event tickets)

Even if your brand doesn’t fall into one of these categories, it may still benefit from a well-executed live shopping event.

How Do I Get Started?

Integrating livestreaming into your brand’s strategies is far easier than you might expect.

In fact, if you have a powerful live shopping software, it does most of the work for you. Onlive.Site’s live shopping software integrates seamlessly with a range of e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and Prestashop while also being easy to use.

You can even book a free demonstration before committing so you can see just how Onlive’s software can work with your brand. Use our online tool to book your free demo today and take the first step toward bringing your brand into the world of live shopping.

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